"Today” show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford has flopped in her attempt to make it as a Broadway playwright, reports TheWrap.com.
Gifford wrote the book and lyrics for the musical "Scandalous: The Life and Times of Aimee Semple McPherson." The show opened Nov. 15 at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, but it’s closing after just 29 performances, on Dec. 9, 2012.
Gifford used her visibility on NBC’s "Today” show — in which she co-hosts a weekday hour with Hoda Kotb — to talk about the production and promote it. However, the critics came down hard on "Scandalous," effectively sinking its chances for a long run.
"Scandalous" told the story of 1920s evangelist McPherson, who rose to fame and then plummeted from the heights amid controversies and notorious love affairs.
TheWrap offers a sampling of the critics’ comments on the production, including these:
" ‘Scandalous’ isn’t so much scandalously bad as it is generic and dull," wrote critic Charles Isherwood in the influential New York Times.
“Newsday’s Linda Winer took specific aim at Gifford’s ‘bombardment of nursery-rhyme lyrics.’
"Talkin’ Broadway’s Matthew Murray, meanwhile, scoffed that the play ‘is not distinctive in one positive way.’ "
Last Friday, Nov. 29, 2012, Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times’ Arts Beat blog, "No Broadway show is losing money faster than ‘Scandalous,’ the $9 million musical about the turbulent life of early-20th-century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson…"
So why was the show still going? Said the Times: "The reason? Its creator, the ‘Today’ show host Kathie Lee Gifford, and two of the lead producers – Dick and Betsy DeVos, multimillionaires from their Amway family fortune – have been determined to keep ‘Scandalous’ running in hopes that the musical will somehow rebound at the box office. While Ms. Gifford has not put her own money into the show to keep it afloat, the DeVoses agreed this week to cover the show’s financial losses for now, according to two executives involved with the show, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters."
The Times added, " ‘Scandalous’ has already burned through the financial reserve fund that all Broadway shows have to help weather periods of low ticket sales, the two executives said. Last week over the Thanksgiving holiday, usually a hearty time at the box office for many Broadway musicals, ‘Scandalous’ grossed a bracingly low $194,511 – or only about 15.5 percent of the maximum possible amount. At some performances the cast – led by Carolee Carmello in a critically praised star turn – were playing to only a couple hundred people in the 1,450-seat Neil Simon Theater."